While practicing social distancing, I’m tired of being cooped up inside, canceling plans and hunting for toilet paper. I miss seeing my neighbors’ warm smiles as they wave hello covered with the latest fashion-inspired mask. If you relate, your customers or members are probably experiencing some degree of angst as well. While this is a time of much uncertainty, fear and anxiety, it’s also a timely opportunity to connect, build trust and deepen relationships with your customers or members.
You may have questions about what’s appropriate. Should I call or email my customers now? Should I wait to offer our special skip-a-payment program? Is it OK to just find out how they are feeling? How much communication is enough? Yes, it can be a bit overwhelming but well worth the effort. Here are three simple and proven tips to ease the way.
1. Talk With and Listen to Your Customers or Members NOW!
Many folks are working from home and your chance of reaching them is excellent. Don’t delay. Pick up the phone. Talk to them and listen carefully to their concerns. Your bank or credit union is likely distributing emails with your COVID-19 updates. For sure these one-way communications are necessary and helpful. However, a call with two-way conversation will give you far greater insights into how your customer or member is feeling and the challenges they are facing.
Let’s move beyond, “how are you doing?” and ask genuine questions that invite levity or reflection. Even more important, listen carefully, empathize and focus on building trust. Here are some sample questions:
- How are you taking care of yourself during this crisis?
- What’s the easiest or hardest part about the quarantine? What do you miss the most?
- How have you and your family (or business) been impacted financially?
- What are your greatest challenges and priorities right now?
- What can we/I do to help you and what information do you need?
- What are you stocking up on besides toilet paper?
Commit to a minimum number of daily or weekly phone calls. Enjoy getting to know them as a friend first. Look for ways to save them money, avoid fees, make life a little bit easier and offer solutions to help them ride out the storm. Your customer or members won’t forget!
2. Soften and Monitor Your Verbal and Written Tone
Whether talking on a call or composing an email just be real, authentic and genuine. While you certainly don’t want to be too solemn, the over-the-top cheerleader approach may appear insincere. Connect with them on an emotional level. Acknowledge their anxiety, share your own struggles and be a calming and encouraging influence. This also applies to voicemail and email messages. To encourage getting a return call or reply email, practice and listen to your messages for content, tone, empathy and speed. Remember to repeat your name and number twice. Offer email as an option in your phone message. Here’s a brief voicemail sample:
“Hi Mary, this is Barb your relationship manager at Mainstreet Credit Union. I care about you so I’m calling to find out how you’ve been impacted by the pandemic and see what help or information I can provide. Please call me at your earliest convenience. I’ll also send an email now if that’s easier. My number is ____________. Again, this is Barb and my number is _________________. Stay well and thanks for your return call or reply.”
Tip: Repeat your name and number twice. Also, to really stand out consider arranging a chat on FaceTime, Zoom or other video conferencing software.
3. Determine Life Stage for a More Personalized Connection
Before you reach out ask yourself, “Who is this person and what are possible challenges based on their life stage?” Are they a student, single mom, young family with children, business owner or retired senior? Prepare by reviewing their profile, activity and past conversations. By identifying their life stage, you can anticipate challenges they likely face and tailor your questions and solutions.
Can you advise a student or young family how to protect their credit rating while they struggle which bills to pay? Can you help them develop a budget? Is the retired senior worried about how to protect their investments in this turbulent economy? Now is the time to really shine and be a financial coach!
Your members and customers need flexibility, a plan for financial health and a huge dose of empathy to get through the Covid19 crisis. Be sure to step up your outreach efforts to foster, nurture and protect the relationships you’ve built!
Is Your Staff Hesitant to Call Customers or Members?
While it may be a bit longer before I can meet onsite with your staff, I can easily facilitate a fun and informative virtual meeting or session. Let’s give your staff and leaders the skills and motivation they need to continue to build loyal customer or member relationships in these unprecedented and challenging times. Just click on Contact Barb or call me at (858) 674-5500 ext. 101. Learn about us at www.HighDefinitionBanking.com
Thanks for reading this post and sharing your observations!